Tasted in Chablis with Didier Seguier, 05 January 2018.
Domaine William Fèvre
21, avenue Oberwesel
Tel: +33 3 98 98 98
Didier on 2017:
“2017 was also a complicated vintage – principally the frost which meant 30-60% lower yields on the right bank – Lignorelles, La Chapelle this direction was badly hit. On the other hand the south, Viviers and Beru, for instance, had closer to correct yields. Behind that a season that was quite favourable but dry – 600mm of rain when there’s normally 700-900mm. No maladies in a good summer. In the end we had good maturity but we saw that the grapes kept plenty of acidity. Relatively early harvesting – in the first week of September. Quite high malic acid ~3-5g in the wines, after malo 5.5-7g of total acidity. They remind me of 2014 or 2010 analytically and they are very clean. I worried about botrytis but it didn’t come. Pure, mineral – I think it will be a good vintage – and concentrated as, for instance, in the grand crus the yields were lower than in 2016. Super classic after the 2015s and 2016s.”
Didier on 2016:
“We had everything: Cold, frost, rain, mildew, hail – more in the south – Courgis, Prehy for instance, the frost was really bad in the north – the reverse of 2017. Altogether this made for the smallest harvest since 2003. In June made two conventional treatments so not Bio in 2016 – it helped us save something. But the mildew pressure lifted with the change of weather – we had a proper summer – there weren’t a lot of grapes, but they were clean and fine – our Domaine Chablis was the smallest yield with 18 hl/ha. I see nicer minerality than in 2015 and some slight reductive characteristics that weren’t there in 2015. We’ve aimed for, and I think largely achieved, elegant and fresh wines this vintage. We started bottling in the Autumn and now all are finished – but really only just – that last were done before the turn of the New Year.”
It seems that you will have to be fast to hook some of these wines – the Domaine Chablis particularly – but there are some simply transcendental wines in their 2016 line-up!
2016 Petit Chablis
Bought grapes – there is no domaine PC.
Rather a modest nose – some freshness and clarity. Big in the mouth, forward and bright, slightly layered. No sharp edges or jarring facets – this you can drink and enjoy already. Tasty wine, almost with a faint reduction in the finish. Yum!
The rest are all Domaine wines:
48 hectares of vines with an average age of 45 – normally. This year 18 hl/ha, principally due to the frost – 28 ha were effectively lost! This was pretty much sold out in France in just 2-3 months! The crus are just starting to go on sale. I was about to order in magnums but they are already gone from the maker!
Hmm, this has a lovely nose – some concentration but also fine and engaging freshness of complex aroma – super. Big in the mouth, concentrated but with lots of balancing energy – wow wine for the label – directly wow! Delicate and elegant but with impact too!
2016 Chablis 1er Beauroy
1.1 ha from three different parcels.
A deeper nose – concentrated, compact with some freshness. Very nice texture, concentrated, in fact layered flavour – fine in the finish. Long, long – this definitely needs time to unwind but great material in here.
2016 Chablis 1er Montmains
3.5 hectares in usually from Butteaux, Forêts and Montmains.
Also tight and concentrated yet with a subtle and engaging floral aspect too. Bright, a fine attack, cushioned and with some oak, I find this delicious and a little saline too in places, but the oak is higher today than I would wish. A super finish!
Also a tight nose – slowly, slowly adding some depth. Big and bright in the mouth – almost an explosion of flavour – beautiful, really a dish of agrume fruit, hardly any bitterness – this is delicious – sumptuous but fresh flavoured – Lovely!
2016 Chablis 1er Les Lys
Not many producers; 17 ha in total, here are 1 ha from 2 parcels from the top of appellation, N-NE facing so with freshness and acidity. Part of Vaillons but these vines are over the top of the hill so not the same exposure. Old vines with a small yield. Decided to separate since 1998, before was in the Vaillons. ‘Naturally these vines don’t produce much ~25-30 hl/ha – there’s a lot of court noué here – but it was half that in 2016.’
Not so wide but a concentrated yet still fresh depth. Hmm, lots of volume here – concentrated but still fresh – a core of lots of material melting over the palate. Hard to follow the Vaillons, but this does a great job – lovely wine. Really a persistent finish. Needs to open out a little but not to the extent of the Beauroy – super wine.
2016 Chablis 1er Mont de Milieu
A deep nose some ripe fruit but also some oak impression. Big, sizzling wine over the palate – another that almost explodes – the oak is only a tiny accent to the complex, saline but sweet flavours. Super wine, but I would wait a couple of years for this to open and show everything. A finish that reminds me a little more of 2015 with long, concentrated, almost dry spiced notes.
A little more than 2 ha, from Pierre Allume, Chapelots and Bréchain, this latter parcel with vines from 1936. ‘Always a paler colour to all the other wines.’
Relatively tight nose – slowly offering up flashes of citrus and salinity. Ooh – a wave of fresh, concentrated flavour – intense but not too much – a wall of wine – a slow-moving wave of flavour – such an impressive wine – also that will need time to blossom but really this is super impressive. Holding a faintly saline and very long note – yes!
2016 Chablis 1er Vaulorent
Only one cuvée from this as the yields were so low – so there is no Fourchaume from the domaine in 2016
A little more aromatic width here – hinting at a little reduction before being overtaken by a fine, pure, fresh citrus note. A little oak accent here, but there’s a concentration of agrume style fruit – a little like Vaillons but more considered and concentrated. Really a concentrated wine – almost grand cru style – that lacks some of the energy of others here, but is absolutely delicious.
2016 Chablis Bougros
“The improvement here is a big satisfaction – it’s a completely different wine to 20 years ago. It’s a generous terroir with some deep soils and plenty of yield. Since 2006 in Bio and we’ve worked hard to limit the yield and there’s now a balance here that we didn’t have before. There are no well-known producers here so historically it hasn’t had a high regard in general, but we can see now that it’s not an accidental grand cru – I’m very happy.” Biodynamic practice in GCs since 2010
A suggestion of oak spice – but no vanilla. Essentially its quite tight though – it needs air. Ohh, wide – very wide, but with weight and freshness too. Pure, intense, precise but clearly needing to open out more but there’s a very fine purity of flavour here, subtly long flavour. Excellent wine.
2016 Chablis Vaudesir
1.20 ha in 3 parcels on a steep slope.
A little more open and pure depth, yet still quite some tightness. Ooh – again! Weight of flavour but it caresses the palate. Width and depth – a volume to this wine – not the most energetic but it doesn’t need to be. Super wine, subtly mineral in the finish.
2016 Chablis Valmur
From the summit of Valmur. Marked a little by elevage as the volume was so low – no new barrels and larger barrels.
A little distracting oak on the nose but there is fresh aromatic volume here. Ooh – massive in the mouth – really! A halo of faintly saline freshness, mineral but without austerity. The background is oaked though so I wouldn’t think of opening one in the next 5 years. Long, long, long… There is concentration but fully elegant in delivery. This should be a seriously great bottle for the patient!
2016 Chablis Les Preuses
2 parcels, one of 1 ha the other of 1.2 ha. Bottled.
A bigger volume of aroma, less overt accents from the barrel – really a deep and mineral base. Big, big, big – here is the maximum volume! Not a wine that punishes with its intensity – but there’s a distinct halo of freshness to the large ball of flavour here. Subtly oaked and elegant the latter despite the volume. Really super and drinkable before the Valmur.
Two parcels on the steep hillside next to the road and river. Bottled this week
A nose that’s less wide, but has such fresh, transparent depth – like a deep lake – such clarity – I’m hooked (like a lake fish!) Directly a different, almost effervescent style of complex flavour that is suffused with freshness and clarity – simply great, great wine – bravo! And such a width of great persistent flavor
Virtually all the holdings are at the top of the vineyard, planted by the father of William in the 1940s. Always the only wine in this – or pretty much any line-up of great Chablis that makes me think – Chevalier-Montrachet! I had a slight issue with the 2015 – and I have such great expectations for this wine – but in 2016, we are back on the pace!
Not the most open again, but such a clarity and mobile impression this nose. Extra freshness, extra everything actually. Great wine! There is something to find in absolutely every direction, there is an intensity that rests on the tongue – even after spitting. This is simply magnificent! Good as the first 4 grand crus are, the clarity and energy of the last two are on the next level